Monday, November 28, 2011

Waiting for Superman & Other Educational Tidbits

Waiting for Superman (2010) is an eye-opening look at the American education system that will make you both sad for the children of our southern neighbour, and so grateful to be a Canadian (yet curious if there are any hidden similarities). As many revealing documentaries do, the directors of this film focus on the history of the truth --why it is so difficult for those who come from less fortunate backgrounds to reach the top. 

The documentary tells the stories of many American immigrant families working three jobs so their bright children have a chance to attend private schools --only to find that the whole system is based on a lottery.
  Hundreds of families wait in school gyms as school board officials draw the names of the winning numbers  from a hat in front of them. The anticipation is intense, as even as a Canadian watching their pain from the other end of the screen, you understand the difference good curriculum, great teachers and top schools can make in a child's future.

Many find discrimination blares in their faces, even if they make it into a private school. One heart-wrenching story tells us of a 5 year old child who is not allowed to attend her year-end class party because her mother missed one of the $500 monthly payments to the school.

Photo from Time Magazine 2011
Geoffrey Canada (an American) is a socialist, looking for change in areas like Harlem and the Bronx. His non-profit organization, Harlem's Children's zone works to provide boarding schools for some of these kids. Again, forced to use a lottery system due to a lack of funding, the program supports kids from kindergarten to college. Discipline, education, support and structure are the heart of his program; the kids leave home at an early age, but understand the value of the education they receive. It was heartbreaking to see the longing in the eyes of the children whose names are not drawn--the majority of those who enter, of course. Geoffrey Canada' efforts made him on Time Magazine's Top 100 of 2011 List  While I'm sure these lotteries don't exist at home, as an English tutor, I often wonder of the difference private and charter schools make.

My 2 month hiatus for blogging was an unexpected, unruly departure. Caught in the midst of a whirlwind of thesis editing clients, tutoring clients, martial arts training (red belt!) and moksha yoga, this is my first half-day off in the last six weeks, allowing me some to breathe.
Running my own business these last few months has been a thrill - in both the exciting and dangerous sense of the word. While I absolutely love my job, I am definitely looking forward to ten days off at xmas to laugh, live and enjoy time with friends and family, as well as some time planning for the future. In fact, I'm thrilled about staying home for xmas this year, with Camille, Julie, Lorina and other friends in town for the holidays. Finally, an xmas without corporate stress! I think my last work-stress free xmas was when I worked for one of the major domestic car companies three years ago - wow do I wish I knew what I traded when I switched from cars to tires ;)

It's all in the past now - and with 12 hours of work ahead today, and three more weeks of insanity, I'll soon be ready for some fun time! Oh, and if I still have any loyal blog readers out there, my apologies for the hiatus - and please stay tuned for a plethora of movie reviews, book reviews, and holiday stories in the next few weeks!

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